Friday, October 26, 2012

"Dark Shadows" (2012)

Generally speaking, an American Soap Opera is an extremely slow paced wallow in human weaknesses. They sound like the epitome of boredom. In the late sixties, Dan Curtis decided to create one that didn’t just delve into extramarital affairs, jealousy and murder. He decided to create a plot involving all of that and the supernatural. In the end it was still a soap, but it offered the promise of potentially interesting things like vampires, werewolves and ghosts.

So, when Burton set out to make a cinematic version of “Dark Shadows” you had to understand what he was doing. It had the appearance of being a story about a vampire, but it was really an adaptation of a soap opera. In that sense he pulled of a good job, people were just a bit upset that it wasn’t the horrific thrill ride that they assumed it would be.

Barnabas Collins, the vampire protagonist, is a very interesting character. He believes himself to be an essentially good man, he is just unfortunately cursed. He only kills people, and cheats and gives into his sexual temptations because he has been turned into a vampire. At least that is what he tells himself.

He is really a lot like most people in our world today. Not just sinful, flawed, and—in action—bad people, but constantly telling themselves the lie that they are good. “Nobody’s perfect” they tell themselves, but their intentions are generally good, so they must be. Collins is a good representative of the “it’s not my fault” condition of humanity. The only solution is to discover that it is; we all have blame and guilt to bear.

Unfortunately, he never does come to that realization. In the end, his “lesson learned” is that he embraces his vampirism. Of course, it is a comedy adaptation of a soap opera after all.

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